City document outlines stringent demands to unions, work stoppage pretty much inevitable

City document outlines stringent demands to unions, work stoppage pretty much inevitable

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the city’s list of demands to unionized workers “amounts to a fundamental overhaul of the municipality’s relationship with public-sector unions.” In other words, it’s long, painful and completely unsurprising. So naturally, observers are speculating (as they have been all week) that the city is on the brink of lengthy lockout—because negotiations clearly aren’t going too smoothly.

From the Globe:

Virtually all 48 articles in the current collective agreement are being targeted. The most contentious demands come under Article 28, covering “Employment Security and Redeployment,” which guarantees that any permanent employee who loses a job due to contracting out, technological change or deletion of position will be redeployed somewhere else in the bureaucracy.

The city proposal does not recommend an outright termination of Article 28. But it does recommend eliminating a letter of agreement that requires the city to notify the union three months before contracting out any services. The city also wants to eliminate a letter that prevents the city from signing private-sector contracts that would result in job losses for permanent members of Local 416.

The Globe lists other demands, like eliminating premium pay for night and weekend work, and scrapping counselling benefits. Meanwhile, the Star reports that the city is working to minimize the impact of a potential lockout on citizens. Apparently, there are even plans to maintain regular garbage pickup. (Union president Mark Ferguson has also pledged to minimize the impact on citizens.) Of course, this is not insignificant, because a still-functioning city service in the midst of a lockout or strike would surely alleviate pressure on Rob Ford to negotiate.

Whether Ford’s team can actually pull this off, especially without resorting to temporary workers, is questionable. But a lengthy lockout or strike could serve as a lesson in labour relations for the city. While Ford criticized David Miller for playing nice with unions, the mayor’s attempts to push through a list of tough demands may have the same end result—a serious pain in the ass for citizens. Then again, our friend Matt Elliott argues that many people will heap the blame for a lockout squarely on unions, meaning Ford could beat the standing-up-for-taxpayers drum and actually see a bump in popularity.

Will it be business as usual during a lockout? [Toronto Star]
City of Toronto document outlines demands it seeks from unions [Globe and Mail]
The stage is set for Toronto labour battle [National Post]